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Accountability & Attention to Results: Dr. Andrew Oryono, OBGYN at Rwinkwavu District Hospital

Dr. Andrew Oryono, PIH/IMB Obstetrician-Gynecologist specialist discusses his career journey, why practicing medicine is a calling for him, and the value of quality of care.

Partners In Health Inshuti Mu Buzima Dr. Andrew Oryono Obstetrician Gynecologist specialist Rwinkwavu Hospital
Dr. Andrew Oryono is the Partners In Health-supported Rwinkwavu Hospital’s Obstetrician Gynecologist specialist.

He will tell you himself, music is a part of his heritage. Born to two teachers from Abim district in Northern Uganda, Dr. Andrew Oryono and his 6 siblings had a very happy and musical childhood and can recall frequent instances when he used to sing, dance, and play instruments with his family. Even though his father was a teacher, Andrew recalls him most fondly as the man who was always bent over, gently dressing the wounds of patients at no cost, with his copy of “The Home Doctor” to which he always referred. Andrew’s father never asked for money for the care he provided, accommodated those who came long distances and fed them when they were hungry.

During his formative years, Andrew was convinced he wanted to be a priest. In fact, he joined a seminary with the sole purpose of becoming a priest. All that came to change when his mother who was pregnant with her 7th child, who had attended five antenatal care visits lost her life during childbirth in Abim Hospital due to neglect by the midwife in attendance. Andrew’s mother had called for the midwife multiple times, but her three calls for help had been dismissed. Soon she grew weak and passed away. Andrew was distraught and had a hard time reconciling the Bible’s teachings with his reality at the time. He was convinced that his mother’s death had been completely preventable.

That is when he made the decision to pursue medicine because what had happened to his mother could not happen again to anyone else. Despite his father’s wishes for Andrew to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher because of his mother’s death, Andrew left the seminary and pursued a medical program at Gulu University as part of its first cohort of medical students.

In Uganda, each summer medical students would go to their home districts and practice. In Abim Hospital, where his mother had died, the head of the hospital was also the sole doctor. So in 2009, as Andrew waited for his internship placement, he practiced medicine at Abim Hospital, where he had more medical training than any of the full-time staff, aside from the Director. To say that Abim Hospital was ill-equipped for care is an understatement, in fact, Andrew recalls when he got involved in a road traffic accident and dislocated his right ankle joint and sustained a fracture before the start of his internship, he was the only doctor since their Director had traveled. He recalls being put in a cast that was set incorrectly. Once he awakened from the anesthesia, he instructed the team on how to cast him correctly. Without an orthopedic officer in the hospital, Andrew had to train them on-the-job, using his own injury.

After graduating, Andrew worked in different places before coming to Rwanda to support Kacyiru Police and Muhima hospitals as an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OBGYN) specialist. While at Muhima hospital, he received the Employee of the Year Award for the reduction in maternal mortality and birth asphyxia. However, Andrew knew that he needed a change and luckily, he saw a job posting for an OBGYN in Partners In Health-supported Rwinkwavu District Hospital. He told his Director he was going to apply.

Despite Dr. Joel Mubiligi’s worries that he may not acclimate to working in a rural area, Andrew knew when he arrived in Rwinkwavu that he had found the right place. He said that practicing medicine in a rural hospital is his calling.

“Being pregnant is not an illness,’ he says, “So when a pregnant woman comes to a hospital alive, she should leave the hospital alive, with her baby.”

Dr. Andrew Oryono, Rwinkwavu Hospital’s Obstetrician Gynecologist specialist, holding two newborn babies.
Dr. Andrew Oryono, Partners In Health-supported Rwinkwavu District Hospital’s Obstetrician Gynecologist specialist, holding two newborn babies.

In Uganda, the “blanket sign” is an unofficial term clinician’s use that demonstrates the status of a mother in labor. If a mother has a clean, expensive-looking blanket, she will often receive better treatment because doctors think that this person has money or could be the mother or sister or wife of someone important. Andrew explains that this idea is pervasive, even in Rwanda, and more should be done to improve the quality of care for mothers regardless of their socio-economic status because each and every mother is important and deserves a safe delivery.

Andrew visits Partners In Health-supported Rwinkwavu hospital twice daily, whether he is on call or not. His round starts from neonatology; after which he checks in on the mothers who’ve had C-sections to see if there are any infants or mothers needing assistance. Then he goes to the operating theatre to check and see if he can help with anything. Very few doctors go to the labor wards to check on mothers, as they feel it is the domain of the nurses. To this, Dr. Andrew says:

“Pride is what kills most people. If God has given you the gift of saving lives, there

is no job that is too small or too unimportant for you. Not when God is your supervisor.”


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